DVSA makes late exit from paper marking of driving tests

Agency moved driving examiners to marking tests on tablets nearly a year later than its intended deadline

Credit: gdsteam via Flickr

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency moved marking of practical driving tests from paper to tablet computers in October 2019, according to an end-of-year message from its technology director.

“We previously used over three million pieces of paper a year delivering millions of driving tests across the country. Now, it’s all done digitally, and test results are emailed directly to candidates,” wrote Becky Thomas, the agency’s director of strategy, policy, digital and technology. The new system also allows DVSA to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency of test results faster, allowing the latter to issue full driving licences earlier.

In April 2018, the agency said it intended to make the shift to digital marking that year and had already started the design work. James Munson, the agency’s then-director of digital services and technology, said that the test was being redesigned for tablets rather than just replicating the paper form. Munson left DVSA in April 2019.

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In her message, published just before Christmas, Thomas also wrote that two million people had signed up for email and text message reminders to get their compulsory MOT vehicle check (named after the old Ministry of Transport, now the Department for Transport). The service, introduced in 2017, uses the Government Digital Service’s GOV.UK Notify system.

DVSA has also built new apps for its roadside enforcement teams, one of which allows officials to see the history and details of vehicles including whether they have a valid MOT. Thomas also said that the agency’s Official Theory Test app, which lets candidates practice questions, was one of the most popular paid-for apps in Apple’s App Store. The £4.99 app is currently second in the UK store’s education section.

Some IT staff at the agency took strike action in late August, with the PCS union saying its members were angry about out-of-hours working, overtime pay and a lack of management consultation.

Sam Trendall

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